Since I had a metro card which expired last Friday but had seven trips left, I kept myself rather busy last week, going out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and then I also needed to go out Tuesday and this week’s run was today. And since this post will end up far too long anyway, I’ll start directly by saying that the activists’ meeting that took place Monday wasn’t in any way a regular one, since the occasion was Mumta Ito coming to present the Rights of Nature Europe initiative to us. Unfortunately, she also brought her daughter, so I was annoyed to say the least from the first moments and got even more so when she began by asking who wants to preserve the environment in the interest of our children and grandchildren. But I guess it could have been worse, and at least they’re trying, despite the project not aiming nearly high enough.
Then the first two of the seven trips left on the metro card were used Tuesday, when I decided to go check out a park on the other side of the city, which had been recently reopened after being closed for a long time due to work being done on it… Which work generated protests, not only because of the amount of time it took, but also because of what it did to the park, and after a fair amount of walking, as I had to step off quite some distance away because the metro line to that part of the city is still under construction, I could see for myself that those protests were entirely justified. It’s obvious that the point was to pour a whole lot of money into a project in order for someone to earn them, as there are wide paths, all sorts of bridges, some not even connected to paths, large rocks surrounding the shallow artificial lake, plenty of tables and benches, a large paved fitness area, and pretty much one corner left resembling something more akin to an actual park, with grass, some trees and a couple of narrower paths, one of them for cyclists.
After that, Wednesday I used two more trips, to finally take the old UPS to be recycled at a hypermarket which gives some discount tickets worth tiny amounts, depending on item type and weight. The UPS was worth 3.09 RON (€0.70 or $0.78 at that day’s rate), which I used as a discount for some margarine and yogurt. All were supposed to already be discounted, but after checking out I noticed I was charged full price for one of the yogurts. The difference was only 0.07 RON, however, and it actually worked out to what I had calculated, as I had made a little mistake, so I didn’t pay any more than I meant to and only saw the issue on the receipt, at which point I just shrugged it off.
Since Thursday was supposed to be rainy, plus that I had a lot of work to do on the statistics, I stayed in and was left with three trips to use on the very last day, Friday. So I used them, first checking out a traditional foods and goods fair at the Romanian Peasant’s Museum, which I also noticed there was mixed with an antiques fair, and then also having a look at what was supposed to be a small book fair. This latter event was a complete waste, as there were only a few stands and they didn’t contain anything of interest, but the other was all right. May have even picked out a few things if I could have asked, but that obviously didn’t work, so I just walked around, had a look and then left… Yes, left thinking of that somewhat similar fair Andra dragged me to once in Iasi, and wondering if she’d still find something like this interesting, or even if she’d want anything.
As for Saturday, used dad’s metro card to get to a free viewing of This Changes Everything organized by Greenpeace Romania. They had even asked people to register ahead of time, due to limited seats, but that was far from necessary, since there were at best 40 people, including their own, and some 200 seats. Unimpressed by the film, however, as I was hoping for not only a much harsher criticism of capitalism and the entire finance-based system as a whole, but also for far more radical solutions being suggested. But the worst part was the booklet they handed out to everyone, about switching to renewable energy, which I’d quite bluntly characterize as mostly bright green crap with some actually dangerous elements, such as some support for using food crops for biofuels or for micro hydro power plants, mixed in. In other words, sort of business as usual with a few twists…
In between these, despite saying the trial was valid until September 26 and usually, due to the issues I had, appearing to check the validity of the license once per day, around 6:30 PM, Avira Antivirus Pro surprised me by switching to the free version Friday evening, when it updated at 11:49 PM. So I was expecting it to expire either around 6:30 PM on Saturday, or at midnight after that day, or even around 6:30 PM on Sunday, and found myself with it expiring sooner, attempts to make it reload the saved license file resulting in things getting even more messed up. That meant I had to uninstall and switch quickly and I got right to ESET NOD32 Antivirus 8, though I was considering trying Emsisoft Anti-Malware 10, as the previous trial was on the previous version and this is one of the ones I’m actually considering.
What I can say about NOD32 is that I quite like the options offered, though I’m unimpressed with its scores in tests, but the new version is just coming out now, so remains to be seen whether that will change, as it won’t be an option regardless of anything else unless it does. It’s also relatively expensive compared to some, though still less so than others and they actually seem to have a Romanian office, so purchasing won’t be an issue. The worst problem, and which makes it nearly unusable at the moment, is that it slows down my Internet access, and I’m not just talking about some noticeable impact, but about the download speed being reduced 20 times! The upload speed is what it should be, but I can barely load pages, and videos or downloads require a while lot of patience.
I did notice a significant impact as soon as I installed it, but it still seemed mostly manageable and could even watch some streams, so I said I’ll look through the settings again in a few days and see what I can do about it, since I was in a rush at the time. However, when I did that, I believe on Monday, I seem to have made it worse, ending up with the current situation, and nothing I tried since then, not even turning off the web protection component entirely, seems to improve things in any way, and I can’t remember exactly what I changed to at least change things back the way they were. As such, while wondering whether the English edition of version 9 will be released soon enough for me to just upgrade and see whether that fixes anything before this drives me even crazier, I sent a support message and am waiting to see what they’ll have to say about it, as so far they only asked if I had another LAN card, and I’m not sure what that has to do with anything.
Later edit: All right, so it did have a lot to do with it. Leaving the above paragraphs to show what I believed the issue was at the time, but a day after I wrote this I realized the issue was in fact my switch. Not unexpected in itself, as it’s some nine and a half years old and had at least two lightning bolts to deal with, one which burned a port on it and another which traveled through and burned the LAN port on dad’s computer and also damaged the one on my old one to some extent, plus the fact that it got wet when the cable decided to piss on my desk, but no idea why it happened now, as I’m not aware of any recent issue of this sort.
Back to taking days one by one, Sunday marked ten years since Andra left, so you can figure out what mood I was in since Saturday evening, not that it’s much better otherwise. What I did that night was perhaps less stupid than what I thought I might do while I was writing that post, however. Did send her two messages, but they were just about things I had stumbled into, both to the address I knew as her usual one and the first from my usual one and the second from another old one she knew all too well and which is tied to an account I knew she had blocked long ago, so they almost certainly ended up being just some words sent into the void, stopping as they slam right into an entry on the ignore list, if that address is still used at all.
The reason why I could do something perhaps less stupid was actually one of the things I found, and the one I mentioned in that first e-mail, namely The Waiting Wall. So, instead of doing anything else, I wrote a brief message and sent it there that very night, actually at about 3 AM, so about one hour before the very moment that marked the ten years. Then, after only glancing at the site once more Sunday evening, I happened to look again after eating Tuesday night, by which I actually mean early on the 29th, not the 30th, and there was my message, in the code. The page switched to another group of messages before it actually displayed it, but waiting a while and refreshing a few times made it appear again, so at least it was actually displayed somewhere.
Moving on, Monday I started reading Oryx and Crake, which somebody pushed at me even though I said it’s a genre I stay away from. Reading it on the computer isn’t helping either, but I don’t dislike the book itself, and after starting quite slowly I read about half of it yesterday, ending up about two thirds of the way through, so may finish as early as tomorrow even if I haven’t read any more so far today. The problem is that, for anyone with eyes to see and a brain to think, for anyone who realizes what’s going on and where we’re heading, such things are depressing, frightening and infuriating, as it’s definitely not the sort of thing I want to read about in a book as well.
At the same time, wondering if the person who told me to read it, coming up with this idea of each telling the other to read a book that they liked, bothered to even start The Briar King, which was my suggestion for her. Didn’t get any reply from her since September 19 and the messages don’t even show up as having been read, so that idea may have been discarded along with that of talking to me as a whole, since things went the same way they usually do and got ugly fast. Sent that first message because she said she was looking for someone to debate things with and doesn’t tend to back down or simply drift away, so assumed disagreements wouldn’t be a problem, quite the contrary, and I wasn’t going to go anywhere when I ended up on the receiving end of even some personal attacks for my views, but so far the outcome seems to be the typical one either way.
Then came Tuesday, when I had to go take care of the matter of the expiring ID card, to avoid a fine for leaving it too late. So dad called to tell me to get ready when he left work, which was earlier than he had told me the day before and therefore caught me rather unprepared, then he called again when he was nearby, as he said he’ll call when he’ll be about as far away from the police precinct as I’ll be while here, to reach it at about the same time. He did end up waiting for me a little, however, as I left probably some five minutes later, but at least that meant there was somebody to eventually get my attention when I was trying to enter through the wrong gate and was getting increasingly confused.
There was some more waiting once there, and at some point it struck me that when he printed the form off the site, he did so on two sheets of paper instead of using both sides of one, so it wasn’t usable and I hurried to fill another while there, as this happened shortly before my turn came. But things seemed to go well enough after that and I therefore lack an ID card until I’ll pick up the new one, which I was told should be in two weeks, at which point I guess I’ll also see how I ended up looking in the picture, since the guy who took it didn’t tell me to have a look while there.
But that wasn’t the end of that day, as after leaving I meant to do the same thing I did the last time I had to deal with the authorities and try to get myself another pizza, from another of the restaurants I had written on a little list before that first somewhat successful attempt. And I did that, though the attempt was once again only somewhat successful, as I once again somehow found myself saying I wanted it to go even though the restaurant, or at least the non-smoking part, was nearly empty and the TV was on a channel broadcasting Simona Halep‘s match, so I could have eaten it there while watching. But, as it usually happens, needing to talk to an actual person means my brain gets disconnected and my mouth says whatever it needs to say to get me out of that situation as soon as possible.
However, that wasn’t the only issue, as before reaching the restaurant I got completely lost in the area and went pretty much everywhere until the only place left was the correct one. At first I took a wrong turn, realized it and went back, then actually turned in the right place but thought it was once again wrong and went back a second time, eventually taking the next street. That wouldn’t have been much of a problem if I would have then turned again when it crossed the one the restaurant is on, but I chose not to do that despite seeing the street name, wanting to actually find the street my mental map said I should have been on in order to avoid heading away from the restaurant instead of towards it. And, as a result, I ended up on some other street, walked for quite some way until I reached a spot that allowed me to get the first vague idea of where I actually was in relation to the restaurant, but then I misused that information and, like I said, pretty much went everywhere and took every turn except the right ones, likely turning back just before the restaurant at one point and going around it and then ending up some distance away before turning back again later, when I finally reached a spot that told me exactly where I was. After that, I did finally head in the right direction and found the place, but it sure took a long time.
Either way, I eventually got my pizza, left, used the hood of a parked car to somehow fit the box inside one of the bags I had with me, quickly got myself back out to the main road in the area… And then promptly turned the wrong way yet again. Realized it after a while, but I thought turning back was pointless by then and kept going, looking for the next major intersection. Unfortunately, that next major intersection wasn’t with the road I initially assumed I’ll end up on, and some more time passed before I realized that as well, but at least I still knew where I was and which direction I was heading in, and this helped me decide where to actually go next when I saw a sign pointing to Cismigiu Park, where I eventually ended up, after a brief stop to wash my hands in the bathroom in the University underground passage. By that time, I had a cold pizza and was quite tired, since the walk was not only long but at times also quite desperate, but after wandering around for a while longer I picked a bench, sat down and finally ate the pizza. Between the two, I’ll stick to the first restaurant if I’ll do this again, however, since it’s not only slightly cheaper but they also put more things on the pizza, even if it’s not necessarily tastier.
And then there are the runs, of course, last week’s being Wednesday evening, when I was tired after coming from the hypermarket and I only managed a 22:26, the intermediate times being 4:49, 10:23 and 17:11, respectively, all of which now being quite embarrassing, especially since the area was far from crowded at that hour, the lower temperatures meaning people no longer needed to wait until late in the evening to go out. I did much better today, however, the new record now becoming 20:30, 13 seconds better than the previous one, with intermediate times of 4:45, 10:05 and 15:59. That means new records for first and third intermediate times as well, though that 10:01 I managed at that second point quite a long time ago remains unbeaten.
Despite the weather being quite chilly, which is making me quite miserable right now, inside, and the fact that the area was nearly empty, this new record did require pushing as much as I could and I even allowed myself to breathe in through the mouth five times as I struggled through the final portion, so I didn’t have anything more in me today. But I’m not so sure I want to go faster over this distance, and in fact even today I was uncertain of the plan even as I started. The thing is that I’m toying with the idea of going for ten kilometers, at least to see how it feels, and if I’ll do that in the park, it’ll mean three full laps and then continuing to run all the way to the park exit, so I actually started at a pace I considered to be rather slow, leaving my options open… Until I noticed that first intermediate time and realized I was still going for speed even if I didn’t exactly mean to until then, and then I pushed as much as I could in that direction.